The muted reception from punters around the winners’ enclosure told it all as Night Of Thunder floored the principals in this year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile on Saturday to post one of the biggest upsets in the recent history of the race.
In a contest run for the main as two separate races the son of Dubawi, who was sent off a 40/1 chance, reversed the form with his Aon Greenham Stakes conqueror, Kingman, to swoop late under Kieren Fallon and give trainer Richard Hannon his first ever Classic winner since taking over from his dad.
The race looked set to be fought out by favourite Kingman, and his chief market rival Australia, with the pair moving to the head of the field deep inside the final furlong.
However, Guineas glory was to elude both of them with the supposed outsider, despite veering violently left, arriving at the death under the six times champion jockey, to score by half-a-length.
“It’s the stuff of dreams,” said Hannon.
“As a schoolboy you read the Racing Post and watch Channel 4 and you dream of days like this – you think you might get there one day, and you might not. But we’ve done it.
“I’m delighted. I thought he’d run very well and we were a bit disappointed after Newbury, but it’s a tribute to him that he has come back and turned the form around with Kingman.”
Victory for 49 year old Fallon was his fifth in the mile-contest, having won the race with King’s Best (2000), Golan (2001), Footstepsinthesand (2005), and George Washington in (2006).
“I thought I was going to go and win easily but when I went half a length up he stopped with me. He was still good enough to win and it was a great performance,” said Fallon.
“It’s brilliant. It’s a great race to win and a great start to the year – it kick-starts our confidence for the year.”
Master French trainer Andre Fabre now has a complete set of English Classics wins to his name as Miss France completed the missing piece of his personal jigsaw at the track 24 hours later when landing the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.
Although having made a disappointing re-appearance in the Group Three Prix Imprudence last month, the daughter of Dansili bounced back to the level of form that saw her win the Group Three Aqlaam Oh Sharp Stakes at the course in September, by repelling the late raid of Lightning Thunder by a neck.
While the win for Fabre may have only ‘solved a problem’ the same can not be said for owner Diane Wildenstein, head of Ballymore Thoroughbred Limited.
“We were not expecting this, more so hoping, as the main goal is the Prix de Diane (French Oaks), if she finished in the first three we would have been happy,” said Wildenstein.
“There was no pace in her comeback race and she came out of it as if she had no run at all, this was her real starting point. This is my first Classic since taking over the management side of things and it is a nice start.”
Racecourse officials reported an increase on crowd numbers across both days racing compared to those that passed through the turnstiles 12 months ago.
On Saturday 17,125 people turned up, 110 more than last year, and the highest turnout since 2008, while on Sunday the crowd figure rose by two-per cent to 14,743 from last year’s figure of 14,430.
“We are delighted that the two days were such a success and the QIPCO Guineas Festival continues to go from strength to strength,” said Amy Starkey, Newmarket Racecourses boss.
For more action from the two day meeting turn to page 78.